COLUMBUS— The Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus (OBMHC) today recognizes the month of August as National Breastfeeding Month and Aug. 1 to 7 as World Breastfeeding Week, both of which promote public awareness and support for breastfeeding.


The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet.” In line with this theme, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are calling on governments to protect and promote women's access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, a critical component of breastfeeding support.


“The Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus is committed to ending racial disparities in health outcomes for Black mothers and babies. Acknowledging and promoting breastfeeding is essential to this important work,” said Rep. Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights), co-chair of the OBMHC.


“The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that mothers exclusively breastfeed infants until at least six months, and then combine breastfeeding while introducing new foods until at least 12 months.


However, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that Black women are more likely than others to need to return to work earlier than 12 weeks, and tend to be confronted with ‘inflexible work hours’ that make consistently nursing and expressing milk extremely difficult. At the heart of many of these issues are racist policies which play out through issues such as Black women being paid less than their white peers, or the lack of paid family leave.”


Breastfeeding is beneficial to almost all mothers and infants, but the benefits may be significantly greater for minority women. Minority women are disproportionately affected by adverse health outcomes, and their health may improve with breastfeeding. There are numerous barriers to breastfeeding that affect all women such as reported pain/discomfort, embarrassment, employment, and inconvenience. Additionally, there are also obstacles that are unique and more frequent among racial/ethnic minority women including a lack of social, work, and cultural acceptance/support, language and literacy barriers, lack of maternal access to information that promotes and supports breastfeeding, acculturation and lifestyle choices, including tobacco and alcohol use.


“A mother breastfeeding her child has been described as nature’s most specific personalized medicine. Breastfeeding has many benefits, and I believe it is one of the best investments for saving infant lives and improving the health, social and economic development of all mothers and babies,” said Rep. Howse (D-Cleveland), co-chair of the OBMHC.


The OBMHC has introduced several bills to promote women’s access to breastfeeding services, including: 



  • House Bill (HB) 611 (Hicks-Hudson, Crawley): To require Medicaid coverage of doula services. The role of the doula in early breastfeeding support can help women reach their goals of a satisfying and successful transition to motherhood;

  • Senate Bill (SB) 94 (Maharath): To enact the "Ohio Pregnant Workers Fairness Act," which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant or breastfeeding.   


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Leader Sykes Statement On The Eve Of The One-year Anniversary Of The Dayton Shooting
Decries Republican inaction on commonsense gun safety
August 03, 2020
 
 

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today issued a statement on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, which left nine dead and 17 wounded.


“Ohioans called on us to do something, but in the year since the shooting in Dayton, House Republicans have done nothing to prevent senseless gun violence. Ohio House Democrats remain committed to ending gun violence and making our communities, schools and public spaces safer for all Ohioans. We cannot afford more inaction as Ohioans continue to die from preventable violence and we owe it the victims, their families and the Dayton community to do something to prevent this from ever happening again. The overwhelming majority of Ohioans want more commonsense gun safety and Republicans have let them down.”


Democrats have continually pushed for commonsense gun reforms, including:



  • HB 240 (Miranda/Kelly): The Child Access Prevention Act, which would ensure firearms are stored safely and securely out of the reach of minors;

  • House Bill (HB) 316 (Russo/Sweeney): Extreme Risk Protection Orders;

  • HB 317 (Robinson/Miller): universal background checks;

  • HB 315 (Liston): Provide mental health and suicide prevention information at the purchase site;

  • HB 319 (West/Miller): Restore local control so that everyday Ohioans can decide what commonsense safety solutions work for their community;

  • HB 320 (West): Prohibit the sale of a gun if the background check is pending;

  • HB 335 (Lepore-Hagan/Boyd): Require subject of certain protection orders to surrender firearms;

  • HB 348 (Miller): Prohibit a person subject to a protection order from purchasing or receiving a firearm for the duration of the order;

  • HB 349 (Weinstein): Ban possession of high-capacity magazines;

  • HB 647 (Strahorn): Prohibits manufacture/sales of high capacity magazines;

  • HB 658 (Galonski): Train school employees if authorized to carry firearms in schools.


None of the Democratic gun safety bills have been called for a committee vote.


Meanwhile, House Republicans have prioritized legislation opponents say will make Ohioans less safe, including the kill at will bill and legislation to eliminate the duty to notify law enforcement of a concealed weapon, which passed the House in June.

 
 
  
 
Vast Eviction Prevention Bill Filed By Reps. Leland And Brent
Bill creates a $270 million program for immediate rental assistance to address the looming eviction threat in Ohio.
August 03, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS –State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) and State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) filed the Eviction Crisis Response Act on Monday, which allocates $270 million from Ohio’s rainy-day fund to create a program for immediate rental assistance. 


“Families across Ohio that were stable six months ago have been rocked by the ultimate one-time economic emergency,” said Rep. Leland. “We can either spend the money now to help these families get back on their feet or accept the immense personal and economic toll of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans being forced to vacate their homes in the middle of a pandemic.”


The bill does the following:



  1. Uses $270 million, or just 10% of Ohio’s rainy-day fund, for one-time rent relief.

  2. Creates a rental assistance program that can be administered smoothly using existing county program structures as well as trusted nonprofits.

  3. Can pay rent owed all the way back to April 1st, not just a single month’s rent.

  4. Returns any money that isn’t used to the rainy-day fund after 60 days.


“Every day that goes by without the promise of rental assistance is another day that Ohio families live in fear—fear of losing their homes and having no safe place to go,” said Graham Bowman, a staff attorney specializing in housing policy with the Ohio Poverty Law Center. “Since most courts re-opened in the last month and resumed hearings, Ohioans are being evicted. People are losing their homes and going to unsafe living conditions while the virus is spiking in nearly every Ohio county. But none of this should be happening. The state of Ohio has plenty of emergency funds available to provide rental assistance to the hundreds of thousands of Ohio families who are living on the edge through no fault of their own. This crisis is about to get much worse. We cannot wait any longer hoping Congress will act, so Ohio must.”


With Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC – $600 unemployment additions) expiring last Friday and the federal eviction moratorium now expired, experts are predicting a dire situation for renters in the coming months.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has made hardworking Ohioans vulnerable to evictions from their homes at no fault of their own. My office receives emails on a daily basis from families that are at risk of being evicted while waiting to receive their unemployment benefits,” said Rep. Juanita Brent “We, as a state, need to come up with a process to ensure public health is taken care of while keeping families together. Our promise is to work for you and assure that each and every Ohioan is safe and secure within their homes.”


In US Census Bureau data released this week, one in five Ohio renters answered that they had “no confidence” in their ability to pay August rent. The same data showed that one in four Ohio renters – some 500,000 – were late on July rent or have yet to pay their July rent.


“Move to PROSPER supports the use of the State of Ohio's rainy-day fund to assist Ohioians who are at risk of losing their rental homes through eviction.  The pandemic, recession and high unemployment put thousands of people at risk of becoming homeless, creating significant negative impacts on people's physical and mental health which will be more costly to remedy,” said Amy Klaben, Project Facilitator at Move to PROSPER, an affordable housing organization in Columbus. “Access to housing is a basic human need and right that must be addressed for the economic future of our great state.  This is an important step.”


The Affordable Housing Coalition of Central Ohio has issued a statement of support for this legislation, which is attached.


 

 
 
  
 
OLBC Members Vote To Remove Larry Householder As Speaker
Say Republican culture of corruption underscores systemic racism present in the legislature
July 30, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS— Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) today issued a statement as the Ohio House voted unanimously to strip Larry Householder (R-Glenford) of his role as Speaker of the House. Householder and four associates were indicted by a federal grand jury today amid an ongoing FBI criminal investigation into his connection to an alleged $60 million public corruption and bribery scheme—the largest in state history.


Larry Householder is the second Republican Speaker of the House to have been investigated by the FBI for criminal corruption in the past three years. Former Republican Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned from the Ohio House in April 2018. Householder refused to resign his position as Speaker and was ultimately voted out.


“There is something very wrong with our legislative system when a lawmaker is removed as the Speaker of the House due to his connection to an alleged $60 million corruption scheme,but still keeps his seat as member of this legislative body. Over 18 months ago, the Republican Party forced out the former Speaker Rosenberger not only as Speaker but as a state representative for an ongoing FBI investigation. What is the difference now in 2020? Could it be that one is a white man and the other a Korean American? This is a demonstration of how systematic racism shows up in our institutions.


“For years, the Republican party has been leading Ohio in a culture of corruption, and that is unacceptable. The people of Ohio are more valuable than any political party or person, and I will continue to do everything in my power to call out and remove leaders who do not serve Ohioans with integrity.


Today during House session, House Republicans voted to make Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) the next Speaker of the House. Every member of the Democratic Caucus voted against him. In these troubling times, Ohioans need a leader that is willing to put the well-being of our great state over their personal gains. We are hopeful that the new Speaker of the House will faithfully execute the will of the people of Ohio.”


The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) is committed to addressing systematic racism and establishing equity and opportunity through health, housing, education, employment, criminal justice and economic and business development policy.


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Leader Sykes: "We Don't Trust Any Of Them."
New Speaker Cupp follows federal indictment of former Speaker Householder
July 30, 2020
 
 

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement today after House Republicans voted to make Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) the next Speaker of the House. Every member of the Democratic Caucus voted against him.


“We don’t trust any of them.”

 
 
  
 
Rep. Miranda Introduces Campaign Finance Reform Bill
Says bill is the first step to regain public's trust in legislature
July 30, 2020
 
 

Rep. Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) on Monday introduced House Bill 737, with Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), bipartisan campaign finance reform legislation they say is the first step toward lifting the cloud of corruption that hangs over the Statehouse. The bill would bring Ohio campaign finance regulations in line with federal law. HB 737 mirrors legislation that was introduced by then-Senator Jon Husted in the 128th General Assembly.


“These past two weeks have been some of the most damaging weeks in terms of public trust in government,” said Rep. Miranda. “House Bill 737 is a good first step to restoring confidence and regaining the public’s trust by increasing transparency and accountability in our campaign finance laws. This bill has the backing of the Secretary of State and poses the best chance to pass meaningful reform now.”


HB 737 would do the following:



  • Generally eliminates the prohibitions against corporations and labor organizations making independent expenditures and electioneering communications.



  • Generally regulates independent expenditures and electioneering communications made by corporations and labor organizations in the same manner as they are regulated under existing law for other entities.



  • Requires corporations and labor organizations making independent expenditures to identify the source of any amounts the corporation or labor organization receives during the filing period that exceeds $5,000 and that is not received in the ordinary course of business or in exchange for goods and services.



  • Requires the reporting of independent expenditures if the amount spent is $500 or more.



  • Prohibits a foreign national from making any disbursement for the direct costs of producing and airing electioneering communications.


“This is the first step to rein in the wild west of dark money spending we've seen in Ohio over the last decade or longer," said Rep. Miranda. "Corruption has tainted our Statehouse for far too long. We're seeing the sowing of all that right now more than ever."


Reps. Miranda and Manning hope to see this bill move through the House process quickly. 

 
 
  
 
Leader Sykes Statement As House Votes To Remove Larry Householder As Speaker
Vote comes amid federal indictment as FBI investigates alleged $60M corruption scheme orchestrated by Householder
July 30, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS –House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement today as the Ohio House voted unanimously to strip Larry Householder (R-Glenford) of his role as Speaker of the House. Householder and four associates were indicted by a federal grand jury today amid an ongoing FBI criminal investigation into his connection to an alleged $60 million public corruption and bribery scheme—the largest in state history.


“The criminal allegations detailed last week and the indictment handed down today made it clear that Larry Householder could no longer serve as speaker of the People’s House. His removal is the first step toward restoring public trust, which for the second time in three years has been eroded by Republican leadership that sees itself as above the law. It is my hope that the Republican Supermajority moves quickly to choose their next leader so Ohioans can have a functioning legislature.”


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Reps. Sweeney, Russo Call For Hearings On Anti-corruption Bill
Ohio Anti-Corruption Act would shed light on dark money, close campaign finance loopholes
July 29, 2020
 
 

Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today called for hearings on House Bill 739, anti-corruption legislation that would require dark money groups to identify their funders and disclose their spending. The bill would also strengthen restrictions against foreign corporations and foreign governments influencing Ohio elections. Sweeney and Russo introduced the bill earlier this week.


“One-party rule in Ohio has led to a culture of corruption. The allegations against Speaker Householder are only the most recent and staggering example,” said Rep. Sweeney. “Dark money groups with innocuous labels like ‘Generation Now’ have influenced our state politics for years. By making people and corporations put their names behind these organizations and disclose their contributions, we can begin to bring transparency and accountability back to our state government. Ohioans deserve no less.”


Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford)was arrested last week amid an FBI investigation into the alleged use of a 501(c)(4) organization to hide the origins of over $60 million, which was funneled to himself, his associates, and preferred political candidates in exchange for passing the billion-dollar House Bill 6 corporate bailout and squashing referendum efforts.


“Recent allegations involving the speaker and House Bill 6 demonstrate just how necessary serious campaign finance reform is,” said Rep. Russo. “This bill will strengthen transparency and accountability so that dark money and corruption cannot subvert the will of the people who elected us to serve. Ohioans deserve better from their government, and this bill ensures the best interests of our constituents remain front and center.”


HB 739, known as the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, would do the following:



  1. Close Dark Money Loopholes - Non-profit corporations like 501(c)(4)s and limited liability companies (LLCs) have become vehicles for big money special interests to hide their spending. These companies currently do not have to disclose their funders. The Ohio Anti-Corruption Act closes these loopholes, requiring these corporations and LLCs to disclose contributions meant to influence elections.


  1. Require Transparency – TheOhio Anti-Corruption Act will strengthen disclosure by requiring corporations and LLCs to tell us more about their true owners and the actual source of funds behind the deceptively benign names of their organizations. The integrity of our democracy depends on openness and accountability.


  1. Strengthen Ban on Foreign Money - Under the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, domestic corporations with foreign owners and decision makers will be banned from spending in our elections. Large foreign companies also won’t be able to get around our current foreign spending ban by opening an American subsidiary funded mostly with foreign money to spend unlimited sums in our elections. 

 
 
  
 
House Democrats Introduce Bill To Repeal House Bill 6
Bill comes as pressure for Speaker Householder to resign mounts amid FBI investigation into alleged $60M corruption scheme tied to HB 6
July 29, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS—Ohio House Democrats today introduced House Bill (HB) 738 – legislation to repeal HB 6, a controversial corporate bailout legislation at the center of an FBI investigation into an alleged $60 million public corruption scheme led by Republican Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), the largest corruption and money-laundering scheme ever in Ohio. Democrats began calling for Householder’s resignation as news broke last week.


The Democratic legislation would repeal HB 6, a $1 billion bailout for Ohio's two nuclear power plants, which was signed into law in July 2019. Speaker Larry Householder and several associates were allegedly paid tens of millions of dollars to pass HB 6 and to prevent a referendum against the law from coming before Ohio voters. Householder was arrested last week for his role in the alleged racketeering scheme. The FBI investigation into the situation is ongoing.


“Corruption has no place in our government, regardless of political party. When corruption is revealed, it is important we act quickly to fix what has been broken,” said Rep. Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood), one of the bill’s joint sponsors. “With deeply gerrymandered districts, Republican politicians feel invincible and are more beholden to special interest groups and corporations than they are to their own constituents. HB 6 was the manifestation of this alleged corruption.”


“House Bill 6, whether good policy or not, was founded on and funded by a scheme to defraud taxpayers and circumvent the will of the people of our state. It should be repealed,” said Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Warren), the repeal bill’s other Democratic joint sponsor. “Recent events have been a black eye for our institution, and our legislation is the first step toward repairing the damage to the public trust caused by Republican leaders in the Ohio House.”


Several House Democrats had initially also signed on, in good faith, to the Republican version of the HB 6 repeal, but many have since removed their names as co-sponsors following an email sent to the entire House July 23 from Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) discouraging members to support such a measure. House Democrats are willing to work with the GOP caucus on a HB 6 repeal, but are currently concerned with the chaos and inconsistencies among the Republican members on this issue.  


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House Dem Leadership Issue Statement As House GOP Discuss Removing Disgraced Republican Speaker
Say Ohioans have lost confidence in Republican leadership following second FBI criminal investigation in past three years
July 28, 2020
 
 

COLUMBUS –House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), Minority Whip Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Assistant Minority Whip Rep. Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester) issued a statement Tuesday following reports that House Republicans voted to remove Larry Householder (R-Glenford) as Speaker of the House.


Householder was arrested last week amid an FBI criminal investigation into his connection to an alleged $60 million public corruption and bribery scheme—the largest in state history. Democrats called for his resignation last week and sent a letter* to House Republicans Monday formally calling for his removal.


“The past week has been a dark time for our state. For the second time in three years, Republican leadership has betrayed the people of Ohio, corrupted our Statehouse repeatedly and proven they are unfit to lead. Ohioans deserve better than this continued, deep-seated Republican culture of corruption that puts special interests and self-enrichment before the needs of everyday Ohioans. A Republican culture of corruption that we are learning potentially permeates more than just the Ohio House.


Removing Householder from the dais was a necessary decision and one that should not have required so much debate and hand-wringing. The disgraced Republican Supermajority’s desperate attempts to shift the focus away from their failed leader who allegedly orchestrated the largest public corruption and bribery scheme in Ohio history is pathetic. And Ohioans are smarter than that.


We refuse to let the latest GOP scandal derail the Ohio House of Representatives from the pressing work that needs to be done. We do not need these distractions; we need to work to solve the critical issues facing working people and families in our state. Republicans are still in power and have yet another chance to do the right thing; we hope this time, for the sake of everyday Ohioans, they take that responsibility more seriously.


House Democrats urge an official vote on Householder’s removal as soon as possible. And if the Republican House members refuse to do what’s right for Ohioans in a timely manner, we will call on the governor to clean up the mess his fellow republicans have made.” 


*A copy of the letter sent Monday from Democratic leadership is attached.


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Featured Posts

Leader Sykes Statement On The Eve Of The One-year Anniversary Of The Dayton Shooting

 

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today issued a statement on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, which left nine dead and 17 wounded. 



 
 

Leader Sykes: "We Don't Trust Any Of Them."

 

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement today after House Republicans voted to make Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) the next Speaker of the House. Every member of the Democratic Caucus voted against him.

“We don’t trust any of them.”



 
 

Rep. Miranda Introduces Campaign Finance Reform Bill

 

Rep. Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) on Monday introduced House Bill 737, with Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), bipartisan campaign finance reform legislation they say is the first step toward lifting the cloud of corruption that hangs over the Statehouse. The bill would bring Ohio campaign finance regulations in line with federal law. HB 737 mirrors legislation that was introduced by then-Senator Jon Husted in the 128th General Assembly. 



 
 

Reps. Sweeney, Russo Call For Hearings On Anti-corruption Bill

 

Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today called for hearings on House Bill 739, anti-corruption legislation that would require dark money groups to identify their funders and disclose their spending. The bill would also strengthen restrictions against foreign corporations and foreign governments influencing Ohio elections. Sweeney and Russo introduced the bill earlier this week